YEAR: 2003-2004 (2 performances, 1 movie)
LOCATION: International Airport Vienna, Schwechat, AUSTRIA
DATE: 07/2003
PHOTOCREDITS: ©Robert Bodnar


Concept, Performance:
When people are arriving at an airport we all recognize taxi drivers, showing names on boards. Waiting in the transit-zone for somebody for something. What kind of expectations do we have concerning towards those arriving? Who are we waiting for? Ruth Mateus-Berr raises the question by her performance by provoking different projections and expectations until there is a void, the absence of expectation as a catharsis for human beings. Stephan Maier exchanged his thoughts about the work of „Before Waiting Becomes Part of Your Life” by Roman Ondák at kunstforum (2010, Bd. 205) “Warten – die Ausdehnung der inneren Leere. Und eine Ablösung von jedem möglichen Event oder einem Ereignis, das als Besonderung unversehens unverhohlene Bedeutung gewinnen könnte“. („Waiting- the extension of inner void. And a redemption of each possible event or occurrence, which unexpectedly and directly might gain importance”- Translation of the author.) Whereas Ondák represents people waiting in front of shops, phone boxes etc. Mateus-Berr is waiting at the airport, not knowing who to pick up, reflecting on expectations and the meaning of waiting.

In July 2003, the artist realized two performances at the airport of Vienna, Austria. Each performance took four hours. The artist was wearing an evening dress with plunging neckline with a hood, on her head wearing an aviators cap.
In her hands she was holding boards with different messages, such as “The one I love”, “The one who never called me again”, “A poet”,… and changed them once in a while. Her attitude was to observe, not to respond to human reactions, but stand there quietly highly concentrated, without responding mimic or gestures. She conducted another artist, Robert Bodnar to take photographs and movies about the reaction of the others, which the following have been cutting, inspired by Radio Head.

In February/March 2020, the corona crisis surprised the world without preparation, millions of people are now waiting at their homes for news. Before there were many speeches held about “expect the unexpected!” and suddenly it was there.
Transit and Trance etymological derive from the same roots, meaning: to pass away, swoon. In Latin it meant transire – to pass, pass away, a state of partly suspended animation or inability to function; or a somnolent state (as of deep hypnosis), a state of profound abstraction or absorption (cf. Merriam-Webster 2020).

Maier, Stephan (2010) Roman Ondák »Before Waiting Becomes Part of Your Life« Salzburger Kunstverein, 23.09.2010 – 28.11.2010 in : kunstforum 2010, Bd. 205. (28.3.2020). (1.8.2020) Dictionary, s.v. “trance,” accessed March 28, 2020.

More information

Mateus-Berr Bio & Studio: Bordvideo 6/2004, shown at all long distance flights in 2004 and 2005.

Click the link below to see the artist's artworks on this topic:

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© 2020 Ruth Mateus-Berr